A biomimicry approach to design urban impervious surfaces for rainwater management in arid climates: A case study in Phoenix, Arizona
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Climate change is altering the urban hydrologic cycle. As evidenced by the great western drought, arid regions continue to undergo severe water scarcity due to increased evaporation and decreased precipitation. The presentation proposes biomimicry as a new paradigm for designing urban, impervious surfaces to counter this trend and increase arid cities' adaptation to climate change. Impervious urban surfaces, like parking lots, roads, and roofs, are known to play an impactful role in anthropogenic climate change, e.g., urban heat island effects. However, conventional impervious pavements in arid regions suffer from the lack of strategies to attenuate water deficit, and adapting these surfaces to water supply sustainability from a landscape perspective has received less attention. An alternative approach, biomimicry, which emulates organisms' morphological, behavioral, and physiological adaptation mechanisms, can be used to redesign impervious surfaces. Desert species have developed numerous thermal and hydrological adaptation mechanisms to survive severe hot-dry conditions. This research aimed to identify and evaluate water transmission strategies for impervious surfaces through adaptations found in the skin mechanisms of desert species. This study employed a problem-based biomimicry approach to developing impervious surfaces in the arid context of Phoenix, Arizona. These strategies were then evaluated using computer modeling to show the efficiency of urban surfaces in minimizing water loss and maximizing water storage. Models were assessed using Ladybug and RhinoCFD. The simulations suggest that altering granular patterns of urban, impervious surfaces in a way that mimics desert species' skin morphology could reduce the intensity of solar radiation on surfaces, thereby decreasing water evaporation. The study supports the continued development of biomimicry strategies on regional scales to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Landscape architecture, Biomimicry, Computational Modeling, Desert Species, Impervious Surfaces, Rainwater Management, Thermal and hydrological Regulation